Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Liquefying the solid: Flat Lamp

A large part of my study @ University of Michigan dealt with bending the rules of inherent material properties. It's not only for the sake of making free form shapes, although that's all well and good in itself, but about examining our current access to materials and learning to take full advantage of what we have. Thus a program was borne:
A light source which can be used on a desktop or as a sconce which appears to be melting when assembled, and can be shipped anywhere in a compact and lightweight package.

Flat Lamp continues with before presented Splat Clock in a series which explores the potentials of making liquid shapes from otherwise rigid materials. Laser cut acrylic and basswood three dimensionalize as a condensed water droplet on a static surface by utilizing an egg-crate-like structural language. Two dimensions to three is nothing new, especially in the laser-cut genre, but is an important piece of the catalogue for material specification to form making.

Flat Lamp is easily reproducible, inexpensive, and packs down very small. No glue required. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wrapping up bacteria, for now: future of grown materials?

Way back when, in April, apparently (apologies), I introduced bacterial study as a mean for architectural/spatial/material infrastructure. I'd like to deliver the rest of the thesis now. Not to say that this research is at all concluded; I think there are so many outlets from here which could be enabled by collaborations with scientists, both of the computer and biological realms. Also, I think within architecture, learning to utilize surroundings has never been more true than with the study of the most abundant and resilient resource on our planet. Onward:

TECHNO BONSAI: Every Salamander is a Superhero

first a crack, then the failing remnant of architecture out of energy, unable to contain the forces of an ever shifting ground that is its own urban territory, erupting with the influx of individuals perpetuating their own fingerprint. the collective must again find harmony through the honest assertion that there is no harmony here. 
Generative design within architecture has focused on the formal replication of biological models, unlike nature which prefers the design of developmental ‘building instructions’ calcifying as adaptable form. Nanotechnology scales have opened up fields of material research empowering man with the ability it to influence these genetic codes at a molecular level. While designers are not fully equipped to handle the complete level of complexity, what can be controlled is the architecture of architecture, fueled by the power of eternally propagating mechanism. Techno Bonsai opens infinite unprecedented combinations of spatial production and interaction rituals by rearranging objects, material, and matter in similar fashion to the cellular processes that fuel it and represent spatial interventions as nano-scale building blocks to the formation of new systems, be it infrastructural or furniture. Mutants become the status quo.

While the bacterial studies are underway, more complex weaving systems also came about in order to find my personal limitations with codified weaving. In practice, these algorithms would guide the bacteria via electromagnetic fields to build infrastructure upon infrastructure, eventually arriving at habitable scale. The one above was designed to mold found materials around a daily pattern of waking up and eating cereal.

During a time where the attitude weighs heavily on sustainability, our environments continue in constant, unpredictable flux. Ergo, the only truly sustainable program is one that constantly changes.

Current innovations in molecular tweaking avails the introduction of program into raw material; in carbon nano tubes, it’s the super strong bucky paper pictured next (Thrice the strength of steel! In all seriousness, I think it's a lot more than that, and flexible, and much lighter). The strand like quality of these super-materials has led to weaving studies to produce depth, surface, and enclosure as well as binding agents for a new world of re-imagined infrastructure. 

Studies in blue examine the possibility of creating three dimensional space using various weaving techniques with varying strand counts. Two dimensional curves become three dimensional objects.

To further micro-infrastructure assembly, the human manipulation of bacteria can direct desired components amplifying their already self-organizing traits. The application of coding aims to combine the form making capabilities of the physical weaving studies and complex swarm logic behavior of the bacteria. Specific strains of bacteria, all those studied being harmless to humans, contain inherent traits that make each desirable to specific applications. Some branch from other hosts, like an addition or remodel to an existing building, some float, ideal to flood prone zones, and virtually any outcome can be achieved with the right foundation and a push to match the living habits of humans. There were nine programmatic prototypes studied for Techno Bonsai.

Coded weaving with intension of making surface

Coded 3D volume weaving of various enclosure / porosity


Sample bacterial infrastructures examined for their inherent benefits prior to manipulation

Bacterial led materials give rise to certain concerns. What are the societal implications when humans become exposed to great amounts of bacteria which was initially invisible?

The Laboratory Ourosboros is the initial site for the various technologies mentioned to begin work on developing human scale architecture from molecular scale components. Defined by the same parent code used in smaller scale studies, the lab itself is a result of the system at play. Providing access and chambers for the scaffolding to continually build on top of itself using oxygen levels and micro-electromagnetic fields to manipulate movements, and eventually release into the world. While debates on the safety on the age-defining materials take place, a leak  springs in the oxygen harvesting towers, and the strains of bacteria begin to arrive on site, programed to make in reaction to what they find. As the CDC releases a notice, B.Subtilis hits the scene in Atlanta. A city planning bacteria, it begins to re-configure the city grid.

It seems to remain a more provocative project as a series of proposed research outlets. Aestheticising something like and unknown infrastructure does not sit well, and takes away from the core of the design work as material research. If it is to be a shape, then you might as well make it out of a pile of whatever-you-already-have. There will be none of that. 

Techno Bonsai in its state as an installation:

The work was made to be interactive: viewed from many perspectives, and in many states, with a storyboarding of a future historical event of the unleashing. The final presentation of work consisted of 3-D prints of sample coding formation in glass containers, explanatory drawings of systems at play, and the actual bacteria growth on display in an exhibit-like setting. 

Acrylic, medical grade stainless fasteners, magnifier borrowed from 35mm projector, medical petri dishes, vaccu-formed bacteria environments and transparency holders on steel cable, gypsum 3-D print, glass, aluminum display frame, plotted drawings on strathmore over MDF mount.